“Everyone must find a way to save water”, says environment secretary Caroline Spelman as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirms South East England to be in a state of drought.
Environment secretary Caroline Spelman used the drought summit to talk about the prospect of droughts in areas of the UK this year. The Environment Agency is warning that unless there is significant rainfall soon, water restrictions will be introduced by April.
After the summit Spelman said, “Drought is already an issue this year with the South East, Anglia and other parts of the UK now officially in drought, and more areas are likely to be affected as we continue to experience a prolonged period of very low rainfall.
“It is not just the responsibility of Government, water companies and businesses [need] to act against drought. We are asking for the help of everyone by urging them to use less water and to start now.”
Spelman also wanted water companies to look at connecting pipe networks so that water could be moved from wetter parts of the country.
The idea of transporting water was discussed in the run up to the summit. London Mayor Boris Johnson stated in his Daily Telegraph article with a certain degree of whimsy that water from Scotland, which has seen a wet winter, should be sent down south in a series of canals.
The Environment Agency and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) have been raising awareness of the water shortage since December. According to the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology, average rainfall this winter has been the lowest since 1972-74.
Trevor Bishop, head of water resources for the Environment Agency, told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on Friday 17th February, “We’re reaching the end of the second consecutive dry winter and that’s very unusual so the situation is getting quite serious”.
Water companies at risk of drought have been asked to reduce water leaks and talk to customers about how to use water more wisely. Water restrictions, such as hosepipe bans, are also on the cards.
It’s easy to save water at home, and much of the measures can also be applied at work. You can also choose a water provider that has been deemed more responsible by Ofwat: Wessex Water and water-only companies Bristol, Cambridge, Dee Valley, Portsmouth, Sembcorp Bournemouth, South East and South Staffs.
The Environment Agency will release its latest drought prospects report in March. The report will set out the areas of the country most likely to be affected by drought this spring and summer and help to plan for the year ahead.